Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

What a difference the weather makes. We set off for our first workparty in three years in our glorious Hows Wood in Eskdale in the drizzle, mist and clag. Sometimes going over Hardknott and Wrynose we even wondered if we had followed the right road as the mist engulfed us!

Each piece of land that Friends of the Lake District owns is different and has its own character. Hows Wood was the first of the current properties that we bought back in the 1980s, one of the first Forestry Commission sell offs. It used to be a coppiced oak woodland, with the bark being used at local tanneries and we still have a fantastic small bark peeler’s hut in the woodland.

The Forestry Commission with their drive for post war planting took out a lot of the native trees and replaced with Sitka Spruce but with no plan for how and where they were going to get them out! With help from our members, we bought the wood and set about transforming it back into a stunning native woodland. We were helped along the way with the odd storm but 40 years on the odd conifer is still sneaking through.

Yesterday the volunteers found four, all of which we donated to the tree surgeon Pete who was on site with us but is underplanting a beech woodland he owns with Sitka for a few years to encourage insect diversity. Whilst Pete set about removing the storm damaged trees which had blocked the path, our volunteers got to work on the backlog of tasks.

We had a big wall gap to fix but with slopes and site conditions this was only possible from one side which added to the challenge. Elsewhere there were branches to lop, fences to restaple to their posts, other wall gaps to assess and brash bridges to check and strengthen. The wood has really thickened out, and that gave rise to conversations about the need to introduce some glades or rides to help ground flora or butterflies in the future.

The growth in the ground flora honeysuckle dotted with wood anemone was good to see and the colours of green from the new leaves and bilberry was almost fluorescent. By the time we left spirits were high, not only with another good day with a sense of achievement, but also as the sun came out and the Lake District really did shine and the rain drops sparkled. No problem finding our way home over the passes on the homeward trip! 

If you want to have a new experience with us, we will soon be holding our first ever workparty on our newest piece of land near Broughton in Furness on wed 18th May. It will be a day of exploring and removing tree tubes from another wood with another amazing view. We needs lots of hands so it would be great to see anyone willing to help.

More information and booking>